By Brittni Johnson
SHELLEY, Idaho (eastidahonews.com) — A local nonprofit in need of a new place to call home is turning to the community for help.
Larry Cudmore, a retired pastor and cancer survivor, runs Champ’s Heart. The nonprofit is a ministry to share horse encounter experiences with children and their family members who are facing challenges such as cancer and other disabilities. The organization also helps veterans, especially those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The organization was based out of the North Bingham County Historical Park in Shelley. Cudmore said Champ’s Heart came to the park on an invitation from the Bingham County Commissioners, who, in April 2021, offered Cudmore a 99-year lease. But recently, he was told the commissioners didn’t have the authority to do a lease for that long because of Idaho code.
“When they found out that they couldn’t do the 99-year lease, then they offered me a five-year lease that would have to be renewed every five years,” Cudmore explained.
When Cudmore was deciding whether or not to make Shelley the permanent home for Champ’s Heart, he was also exploring another land option that would’ve cost $300,000.
“I told them (commissioners) that I need to know you’re serious about this (99-year lease) and they said, ‘Oh yeah, we are,’” Cudmore recalls. “So I let that land deal go.”
Cudmore wanted to build a $1 million indoor arena on the Shelley property but said the commissioners “aren’t going to be commissioners forever” and he “can’t spend a million dollars on a five-year lease.”
“The whole idea of this indoor arena that we’re hoping to build will be temperature controlled, so it doesn’t make any difference if it’s blizzarding or raining or really hot, cold or windy, the program can happen,” Cudmore mentioned. “It’s important for the children to have a routine that isn’t broken.”
Champ’s Heart — which serves about 75 children, 10 veterans and has waiting lists for both programs — was given until Sept. 30 before it needed to be moved out of the park. Cudmore decided to leave two months early because on top of the lease issues, people have been making complaints to Bingham County Animal Control about his horses.
A few of the complaints were that some of his horses were too skinny, the little ones were too fat and that grain buckets were on the ground instead of hanging on the fence, according to Cudmore.
“It was frustrating because imagine somebody coming to your house and the police come in and are interviewing you and accusing you of something you never did, and then they find out it’s not true,” Cudmore said. “It was humiliating to me.”
Cudmore added that animal control came out twice, but he was told the complaints were “bogus.”
“The last straw was when I came there one day, and somebody had cut half the tail off my horse,” he said. “I decided I have to leave the end of September anyway. I’m not going to get to build the arena here and why put up with this hassle for two more months when who knows what’s going to happen?”
Champ’s Heart has ceased operations while they look for a new home. Cudmore said ideally, he’d like the organization to be somewhere between Shelley and Rigby on 10 acres, but five is doable.
If you know of anybody who has land for sale or would be willing to donate land, contact Cudmore at (208) 589-4082.
Monetary donations to purchase land can be made on Venmo @Larry-Cudmore.
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